Thursday, September 20, 2012

President James Monroe


 James Monroe
Click Here to view the US Mint & Coin Acts 1782-1792

Fifth President of the United States
 under the Constitution of 1787

March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825



JAMES MONROE was born on April 28, 1758 in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He was one of five children of Spence Monroe and Elizabeth Jones who were both natives of Virginia. The Monroe’s lived on a small farm and young James walked several miles each day to attend the school of Parson Campbell, who taught him the stern moral code that he followed throughout his life.

When he was 16, Monroe entered the College of William and Mary. During his first year there, his father died and the cost of his education and his guardianship was taken over by his uncle, Judge Joseph Jones, who became his trusted advisor. The year was 1774 and the colonies were moving ever closer to war with Great Britain. Young Monroe was finding it difficult to concentrate on his studies and in 1775, he left college to go to war. He became a lieutenant and during the Battle of Trenton, his captain was wounded and the command was given to him. However, he too was wounded at that battle and while recovering he was named aide-de-camp to Major General Lord Stirling. He fought with George Washington at Valley Forge and in 1779, and now a major, Monroe was commissioned to lead a militia of Virginia regiment as a lieutenant colonel. However, his unit was never formed and his military career was at its end. He became an aide to Thomas Jefferson, who was the Governor of Virginia at this time. He also became Jefferson’s student in the study of law and with Jefferson’s guidance, he began to see what course his life would take.

In 1782, at the age of 24, Monroe was elected to the Virginia State Legislature. He was the youngest member of the Executive Council and in 1783, was elected to the United States Congress that was meeting in New York City. He served in Congress for three years and during this time he became interested in the settlement of the “western” lands between the Allegheny Mountains and the Mississippi River. He was chairman of two important expansion committees – one dealing with travel on the Mississippi River and the other involving the government of the western lands.



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Congress was meeting at that time in New York City, and while there Monroe met Elizabeth Kortright, whom he married on February 16, 1786. The couple had three children: Eliza Kortright Monroe (1786-1835), James Spence Monroe (1799-1800), and Maria Hester Monroe (1803-1850).

In October, 1786, Monroe resigned from Congress and settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia with his new bride. He was elected to the town council and once again to the Virginia Legislature. He was a delegate to the Virginia convention to ratify the new Constitution and was strongly opposed, feeling that it was a threat to fee navigation of the Mississippi. He voted against the constitution, but once it was ratified he accepted the new government without any misgivings.
In 1789, the Monroe’s moved to Albemarle County, Virginia. Their estate, Ash Lawn, was very near Jefferson’s estate, Monticello. In 1790, he was elected to a recently vacated seat in the United States Senate and was named to a full six-year term the following year. In the spring of 1794, Monroe accepted the diplomatic position of Minister Plenipotentiary to France. His assignment was to help maintain friendly relations with France despite efforts to remain on peaceful terms with France’s enemy, Great Britain. Monroe was recalled in September 1796 and felt he had been betrayed by his opponents who used him to appease France while they made great concessions to Britain in Jay’s Treaty that the United States had signed in 1794. He remained bitter about it for the rest of his life.

Copyright © 2008 Stan Klos and Forgotten Founders, Inc.
Engravings of James Monroe Birth farm and  Oak Hill mansion 


Monroe returned home in June 1797 and after two years of retirement from public office, he was elected governor of Virginia, a position that he served from 1799 until 1803. His great friend and mentor, Thomas Jefferson had been elected President in 1800 and in 1803 and in this letter he writes James Madison:

James Monroe to James Madison Richmond, 14 January 1802.

He begins by saying how pleased he is that Madison liked his message to the Virginia state legislature, in which Monroe lauded Jefferson's non-partisan approach to federal appointments. 


"It is in the powers of the President & Executives of the States who are republican, to open a course to the people which has heretofore been obscured by a cloud, or if seen, branded as jacobinic. This may be done without even looking at the weak and unworthy characters who have gone before, and who perverted the trust reposed in them to very different purposes. I have little doubt that that cause will be better understood and become more popular daily."

"The President has acquitted himself well. This indeed was a very extng. communication from his place, as the course of proceeding resulting from it must be in the Congress. The former gentry will find themselves in a strange dilemma[,] compelled to admit abuses, by sanctioning reforms which they cannot oppose; guilt becomes afflicting even to the most guilty when it is detected & exposed."
Monroe hopes that Jefferson's non-partisanship will not only put a stop to Federalist patronage but cool down the tone of political life generally. In the tumultuous 1790;s, with the French Revolution throwing American politics into tumult, the Federalists painted Jefferson and his supporters as wild disciples of guillotine-style democracy, while to the Jeffersonians, the ruling party were all closet monarchists. Echoes of those passions appear in this letter ("jacobinic," "former gentry").

 Upon the end of his term as governor, Monroe was sent back by President Jefferson  to France to help Robert R. Livingston complete the negotiations for the acquisition of New Orleans and West Florida. The French Emperor, Napoleon I, offered to sell instead the entire Louisiana colony and although the Americans were not authorized to make such a large purchase, they began negotiations. In April 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was concluded, more than doubling the size of the nation. 



Louisiana Purchase Treaty, April 30, 1803. The Louisiana Purchase added 828,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River to the United States. For roughly 4 cents an acre, the United States had purchased a territory whose natural resources amounted to a richness beyond anyone's wildest calculations.


Monroe spent the next two years in fruitless negotiations with Britain and Spain and returned to the United States in late 1807.

Monroe returned to Virginia politics and once more served in the legislature and was elected Governor for a second time. In 1811, Monroe became President Madison’s Secretary of State and when the War of 1812 was declared, he loyally supported Madison. He served as Secretary of State throughout the war and simultaneously served as Secretary of War for the latter part. 

In August of 1814, word reached Washington that a British invasion force had appeared at the mouth of the Potomac River. Secretary of State Monroe led a reconnaissance of the enemy force at the head of a troop of cavalry and it was soon apparent that the British objective was the nation's capital. After posting what troops and militia he could in a futile effort to halt the enemy advance at Bladensburg, Monroe alone among the cabinet remained behind to aid in the evacuation of Washington. Reunited with his wife shortly after the British entered Washington, Monroe "was near collapse after a week of ceaseless activity during which he had not changed his clothes nor had slept more than a few hours at any one time"  

Monroe and President Madison returned to to the devastated city on August 27, and found that the British had systematically destroyed every major public building, including the White House, sparing only the Patent Office. In the midst of the ruins of Washington, clearly reflecting upon the possibility that he may have been killed in an encounter with the British, Monroe prepared the present first draft of his will: "I James Monroe...well knowing the uncertainty of human life, especially at a period, when, by the predatory & desolating system of warfare carried on by the enemy, the best & most active services of every citizen are due to his country...make this my last will and testament."



James Monroe Last Will and Testament  Sold at Christies.com 2010


Reflecting his concern over debts contracted during his recall as Minister to France, Monroe directs that his bounty lands in Kentucky or tracts in Albemarle or Loudon be sold: "I leave it to my beloved wife, to designate that which shall be appropriated to that object." Monroe questions the legitimacy of some of these debts (which were only settled many years later) and expresses the hope that this debt will be lifted when "all feelings of an unfriendly nature towards me in every breast will have subsided."


Monroe leaves his slaves "whom my executor may not think proper to sell" to his wife, who will then convey several individuals to his daughter Maria upon her marriage. Monroe specifies that "should my wife marry again, which I am far from prohibiting, I would then wish that she shod. convey to my daughter...part of the tract of land." In the event of the death of his wife Elizabeth, Monroe stipulates that all property should be equally divided between his daughters Eliza Hay and Maria: "It is my object to provide equally for my children, regarding their respective ages, after providing for their mother." Monroe also provides for his two brothers: "Should my circumstances permit it, without inconvenience to my wife and daughters, I should wish that friendly aid should be given to both...something to Andrew to enable him to procure a small residence...and something to Joseph to enable him to resume his profession with advantage." Monroe leaves his law books, two hundred other volumes of his choice, and personal furniture to his son-in-law, George Hay, but requests that his other books be sold to pay his debt.


On December 24, 1814, the Treaty of Ghent was signed ending the war placing Monroe and his family out of danger. In 1815, Monroe returned to the normal peacetime duties of Secretary of State.

Copyright © 2008 Stan Klos and Forgotten Founders, Inc.


U.S. 1816 Presidential Election Results

Nominee
James Monroe
Rufus King
Party
Republican
Federalist
Home state
Virginia
New York
Running mate
Daniel D. Tompkins
John Eager Howard
Electoral vote
183
34
States carried
16
3
Popular vote
76,592
34,740
Percentage
68.2%
30.9%



Monroe was the logical presidential nominee at the end of Madison’s second term, and he won the election easily. On March 4, 1817 James Monroe took his oath of office. Some of the notable events of his term were: Congress fixed 13 as the number of stripes on the flag to honor the original colonies; the boundary between Canada and the United States was fixed at the 49th parallel.; Spain ceded Florida to the United States in exchange for the cancellation of $5 million in Spanish debt; The Missouri Compromise, admitted Missouri as a slave state, but forbade slavery in any states carved from the Louisiana Territory north of 36 degrees 30 minutes latitude. By the end of his first term, Monroe’s administration had been one of high idealism and integrity and his personal popularity was at an all-time high. Monroe was virtually unopposed for reelection. He carried every state and received every electoral vote cast with the exception of one, cast by a New Hampshire elector for John Quincy Adams.


U.S. Presidential Election of 1820


Presidential Candidate
Party
Home State
Popular Vote(a)

Electoral Vote
Count
Percentage
James Monroe
Republican
Virginia
87,343
80.61%
228
No candidate
Federalist
N/A
17,465
16.12%
0
DeWitt Clinton
Independent
New York
1,893
1.75%
0
Total


108,359
100.00%
231


With the exception of the President's historic message to Congress of 2 December 1823,  Monroe’s second term as president was relatively uneventful.  The Monroe Doctrine defined as national policy principles delineated by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, condemning European intervention in the Americas and prohibiting all efforts at colonization. It proclaimed that "The American continents, by the free and independent condition they have assumed and maintained, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers," and that any such intervention would be regarded as "manifestation of an unfriendly disposition towards the United States." Monroe's announcement "represented one of Adams' finest contributions to the emergence of the United States as a world power"  "

By including the policy statement in his annual message Monroe gave his declaration a character reminiscent of Washington's well-remembered Farewell Address. He focused attention upon his utterances as a declaration of national policy... (Ammon, James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity, p.492). 


During the second term, even on his presidential salary, President Monroe struggled financially writing a fellow Virginian: 



"I am pressed by heavy duties during the Session of Congress, that I really am not able to do justice to my friends or to my own private concerns. I can only state at present that I will write to Mr. Randolph to accept your draft for three hundred dolrs, for the purposes mentioned in our late correspondence, that is, for Mr Bacon, the clover seed, & Mr Price & to draw on me for the amount, if necessary. I hope that my flour & tobco will be hastened down to him as soon as possible as I wish to pay you out if it, & some other claims. You see enough of my affairs, to know how hardly I have been dealt with & what hard fortune I have had on the management of my private affairs, which I will feel through life."

Monroe had no thought of seeking a third term as the election of 1824 neared. He was 67 years old when he turned over the presidency to John Quincy Adams. He retired to Oak Hill, Virginia. He was plagued by financial worries and he was forced to sell his estate Ash Lawn to meet his debts. Like many debt-plagued Virginia planters, Monroe did indeed suffer from poor financial health throughout his life. Things only got worse after his presidency when he waged a lengthy battle with the Congress for reimbursement of his expenses incurred while serving as a diplomat overseas. He never achieved solvency and was forced in his final years to sell Oak Hill and live under the roof of his youngest daughter Maria Hester Gouverneur and her husband. Monroe died there on July 4, 1831, the fifty-fifth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.




James Monroe Birthplace Commission

James Monroe Birthplace
4460 James Monroe Highway,
Colonial Beach, VA  22443

Hours of Operation:  Memorial Day to Labor Day, Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  No Charge for Admission.  Donations Kindly Accepted.


G. William Thomas, President
James Monroe Foundation
Tel:  804-231-1827             

Drawing by David Lewes of the
College of William and Mary Center
for Archeological Research, November, 2009.

 Stanley Y. Klos, Co-Founder
James Monroe Birthplace Commission
Tel:   727-771-1776

The site and the restoration of the James Monroe Birthplace, now part of a new master plan, was brought to the attention of the James Monroe Memorial Foundation's President G. William Thomas by Stanley L. Klos a member of the Advisory Board.   Klos proposed the James Monroe Memorial Foundation (JMMF) approach Westmoreland County for the stewardship of the Monroe Family Farm site in 2004. 

The Board of Directors quickly adopted Klos' plan because the JMMF's founders, Laurence Gouverneur Hoes and his wife, Ingrid Westesson Hoes had always hoped the foundation would to acquire the farm.  Their vision included the reconstruction of the Monroe Family Home, barn and outbuildings as an interpretive venue highlighting the modest beginnings of a great U.S. President.

Copyright © 2008 Stan Klos and Forgotten Founders, Inc.
President G. William Thomas and Commissioner Stanley Y. Klos
signing the 99 year lease on the James Monroe Birthplace
 

On April 4th, 2005, the County of Westmoreland signed a 99 year lease with the James Monroe Memorial Foundation which will allow the Foundation to restore the Birthplace farmhouse, establish an educational visitor center, and remain the faithful steward of the Birthplace farm.  

The reconstruction of the James Monroe Birthplace farmhouse and related buildings will cost in excess of $500,000. The James Monroe Memorial Foundation is currently raising the money for restoration of the farmhouse.

Statement of Purpose: In 1976 the College of William & Mary began the archaeological survey of the James Monroe Birthplace and uncovered the ruins of the Monroe Family Home. Unlike George Washington, whose Westmoreland birthplace is a now a National Park, Monroe did not leave the family farm at three years old. James Monroe spent his entire youth working the farm until he left for his education at The College of William & Mary. The archaeological team uncovered a 20' x 58' house foundation which coincided with the known 1845 etchings of the birth home. The archaeological study clearly indicated that James Monroe's beginnings were humble. The family resided in a small four room, rough cut wooden farm house with few outbuildings on a 500 acre farm filled with wetlands.



James Monroe Scholarship Award

In 2001 Susan Nelson- Warren Byrd Landscape Architects of Charlottesville were commissioned by the County of Westmoreland, Virginia to prepare a master plan for a multi-phase development of James Monroe's Birthplace site. The county's desire was to create a unique, economical, and attractive park that celebrates the birth and life of our nation's fifth president under the 2nd U.S. Constitution, James Monroe, while providing passive recreation for the local residents.

In order to meet these desires, the county wanted the master plan to provide general design strategies for the construction of a roadside parking area, installation of interpretive signs, archaeological interpretation, the development of bicycle and walking trails, and any other improvements deemed necessary and desirable. An outstanding Master Plan was developed by Susan Nelson- Warren Byrd Landscape Architects in October 2001, and much of the text and illustrations shown below are drawn from that 2001 Master Plan.


The site and the restoration of the birthplace, now part of a new master plan, was brought to the attention of the James Monroe Memorial Foundation's President G. William Thomas. Laurence Gouverneur Hoes and his wife, Ingrid Westesson Hoes, established the James Monroe Memorial Foundation (JMMF) in 1928. Laurence Hoes, the great-great-grandson of James Monroe, had always hoped for the JMMF to acquire the farm and reconstruct the Monroe Family Home, barn and outbuildings as an interpretive venue highlighting the modest beginnings of a great U.S. President.. On April 4th, 2005, the County of Westmoreland signed a 99 year lease with the James Monroe Memorial Foundation which will allow the Foundation to restore the Birthplace farmhouse, establish an educational visitor center, and remain the faithful steward of the Birthplace farm.

The reconstruction of the James Monroe Birthplace farmhouse and related buildings will cost in excess of $500,000. The James Monroe Memorial Foundation is currently raising the money and expects to break ground on July 5, 2006 (174th Anniversary of Monroe's death). The House is scheduled to be completed by April 2007. President George W. Bush will be invited to do the official commemoration on April 28th, 2008 the 250th anniversary of James Monroe's birth.

We invite you to participate in the Monroe Birthplace mission through your underwriting support. 


---- How Can I Help? -----

For over 80 years, the James Monroe Foundation has worked tirelessly to honor the life and legacy of James Monroe. However, for us and for supporters around the country, our work has just begun.

Reconstructing the birthplace of James Monroe, continuing to acquire Monroe artifacts, and enlarging our educational programs will not be easy. Each effort requires investments of scarce resources. That's why the Foundation needs your help.

Your contribution to the James Monroe Foundation of time and resources will go a long way to accomplishing these goals.

You can make a tax-deductible contribution by PayPal, which can accept your credit card or bank draft (if you have a PayPal account). 

To use PayPal, click on the Donate button:
 

You can also send a Tribute Gift to us by U.S. Mail.

Click Here to view the gift form.






Community Context: There are currently four primary land uses adjacent to the James Monroe Birthplace site. This means that there is potential for development pressure immediately surrounding the site. In order to preserve the historic and scenic aspect of the site, the master plan calls for the establishment of conservation easements and land use restrictions on adjacent properties. The park will fit into a network of bicycle routes, canoe routes, birding trails, and historic tours that are all economically pertinent to the county. The master plan calls for the protection and preservation of all archaeological resources while emphasizing community outreach through volunteer research and investigation. The site offers an excellent opportunity for school groups, Boy and Girl Scouts, and other interested parties to study and understand ecological habitats. Proper forest management is intended to provide long-term benefits for the park by producing yields of timber for profit, educating the public on sustainable forestry, and attracting wildlife. Managing the proposed meadow can be tied into forest management while providing an excellent opportunity to help restore the state's declining Bobwhite Quail population.

Role of the landscape architect/entrant vs. the role of other participants, including owner/client and collaborators: The landscape architect was the primary consultant with responsibility for all aspects of the master plan preparation and was influenced by a series of meetings and presentations where input was gathered from Westmoreland County's residents and public officials. The master planning process included comprehensive documentation and analysis of the site and its geographic and historical relationship to its context. Through investigating maps and narrative on James Monroe, his family, and Westmoreland County, the site's cultural and natural history was chronicled. Evaluation of opportunities and constraints were performed in conjunction with potential program and site issues. Composed within the body of a descriptive narrative, the produced document includes pertinent mappings, proposed plans and vignettes.

Special Factors: The site of James Monroe's birth affords a distinct opportunity for interpreting the overlapping conditions of both cultural and natural histories. This master planning process will serve as a catalyst for defining how the site is used in the future as part of the public domain. While the life of James Monroe will serve literally as the structural and symbolic spine of the site, the place will also be defined by the continuous transformation and evolution of the forest and meadows, the fluctuation s of light and weather, the cycles of seasons, and by the way people engage it: daily, seasonally, and across generations.

Significance: The site can be a model of how to build and maintain development respectful to its ecosystem. Low impact recreational activities proposed are in keeping with the ecological conservation efforts and program of the park. Reclaimed and recycled building materials are proposed for pavilions, boardwalks, signs, and edging. The James Monroe Memorial Foundation may seek to utilize 18th Century wood and material to reconstruct the Farm house, kitchen and Barn. Eventually the farmhouse and the visitor center will contain artifacts related to James Monroe or his era.

The emphasis of storm water management on site could play an important role in educating developers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed on the importance of water and habitat conservation. Creating demonstration plots for sustainable forestry provides a useful education tool while making the site visible to science -based researchers. Protecting and preserving all resources associated with James Monroe's birth is beneficial for the enjoyment and education of the public. These long-term plans would be an important tool for tying in the local community with state and nation wide education programs.

Westmoreland County Statement: The James Monroe Birthplace Park Master Plan provides a vision that creates a long-term strategy for the future development of a historical public park. The plan allocates space to meet all programmatic goals, circulation and parking, preservation of historic and natural areas, and interprets the life of James Monroe while giving the visitor the best possible experience. The landscape architect exceeded our objective by reaching out to the local community through incorporating a wide range of educational and research initiatives. The plan is a firm guide for the County to pursue a renewal of the site.
To sign our petition to the Westmoreland County Planning Commission and other local and state officials to keep the Monroe Birthplace pristine, please click here.




  


1876 Appleton's Biography on James Monroe.

MONROE, James, fifth president of the United States, died in Westmoreland county, Virginia, 28 April, 1758" died in New York city, 4 July, 1831. Although the attempts to trace his pedigree have not been successful, it appears certain that the Monroe family came to Virginia as early as 1650, and that they were of Scottish origin. James Monroe's father was Spence Monroe, and his mother was Eliza, sister of Judge Joseph Jones, twice a delegate from Virginia to the Continental congress. The boyhood of the future president was passed in his native county, a neighborhood famous for early manifestations of patriotic fervor. His earliest recollections must have been associated with public remonstrance against the stamp-act (in 1766), and with the reception (in 1769)of a portrait of Lord Chatham, which was sent to the gentlemen of Westmoreland, from London, by one of their correspondents, Edmund Jennings, of Lincoln's Inn. 

To the college of William and Mary, then rich and prosperous, James Monroe was sent but soon after his student life began it was interrupted by the Revolutionary war. Three members of the faculty and twenty-five or thirty students, Monroe among them, entered the military service. He joined the army in 1776 at the headquarters of Washington in New York, as a lieutenant in the 31 Virginia regiment under Colonel Hugh Mercer. He was with the troops at Harlem, at White Plains, and at Trenton, where, in leading the advance guard, he was wounded in the shoulder. 

During 1777-'8 he served as a volunteer aide, with the rank of major, on the staff of the Earl of Stifling, and took part in the battles of the BrandywineGermantown, and Monmouth. After these services he was commended by Washington for a commission in the state troops of Virginia, but without success, he formed the acquaintance of Governor Jefferson, and was sent by him as a military commissioner to collect information in regard to the condition and prospects of the southern army. He thus attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel but his services in the field were completely interrupted, to his disappointment trod chagrin. His uncle, Judge Jones, at all times a trusted and intimate counselor, then wrote to him; " You do well to cultivate the friendship of Mr. Jefferson . . . and while you continue to deserve his esteem, he will not withdraw his countenance." 

The future proved the sagacity of this advice, for Monroe's intimacy with Jefferson, which was then established, continued through life, and was the key to his early advancement, and perhaps his ultimate success. The civil life of Monroe began on his election in 1782 to a seat in the assembly of Virginia, and his appointment as a member of the executive counsel. He was next a delegate to the 4th, 5th, and 6th congresses of the confederation, where, notwithstanding his youth, he was active and influential. Bancroft says of him that when Jefferson embarked for France, Monroe remained "not the ablest but the most conspicuous representative of Virginia on the floor of congress, lie sought the friendship of nearly every leading statesman of his commonwealth, and every one seemed glad to call him a friend." 

On 1 March, 1784, the Virginia delegates presented to congress a deed that ceded to the United States Virginia's claim to the northwest territory, and soon afterward Jefferson presented his memorable plan for the temporary government of all the western possessions of the United States from the southern boundary (lat. 31. N.) to the Lake of the Woods. From that time until its settlement by the ordinance of 13 July, 1787, this question was of paramount importance. Twice within a few months Monroe crossed the Alleghenies for the purpose of becoming acquainted with the actual condition of the country. One of the fruits of his western observations was a memoir, written in 1786, to prove the rights of the people of the west to the free navigation of the Mississippi. 

Toward the close of 1784 Monroe was selected as one of nine judges to decide the boundary dispute between Massachusetts and New York. He resigned this place in May, 1786, in consequence of an acrimonious controversy in which he became involved. Both the states that were at difference with each other were at variance with Monroe in respect to the right to navigate the Mississippi, and lie thought himself thus debarred from being acceptable as an umpire to either of the contending parties, to whom he owed his appointment.  

In the congress of 1785 Monroe was interested in the regulation of commerce by the confederation, and he certainly desired to secure that result: but he was also jealous of the rights of the southern states, and afraid that their interests would be overbalanced by those of the north. His policy was therefore timid and dilatory. A report upon the subject by the committee, of which he was chairman, was presented to congress, 28 March, 1785, and led to a long discussion, but nothing came of it. The weakness of the confederacy grew more and more obvious, and the country was drifting toward a stronger government. But the measures proposed by Monroe were not entirely abortive. Says John Q. Adams: "They led first to the partial convention of delegates from five states at Annapolis in September, 1786, and then to the general convention at Philadelphia in 1787, which prepared and proposed the constitution of the United States. Whoever contributed to that event is justly entitled to the gratitude of the present age as a public benefactor, and among them the name of Monroe should be conspicuously enrolled." 

According to the principle of rotation then in force, Monroe's congressional service expired in 1786, at the end of a three years' term. He then intended to make his home in Fredericksburg, and to practice law, though he said he should be happy to keep clear of the bar if possible. But it was not long before he was again called into public life. He was chosen at once a delegate to the assembly, and soon afterward became a member of the Virginia convention to consider the ratification of the proposed constitution of the United States, which assembled at Richmond in 1788. In this convention the friends of the new constitution were led by James MadisonJohn Marshall, and Edmund Randolph




Who was the first U.S. President?

Patrick Henry was their chief opponent, and James Monroe was by his side, in company with William Grayson and George Mason. In one of his speeches, Monroe made an elaborate historical argument, based on the experience of Greece, Germany, Switzerland, and New England, against too firm consolidation, and he predicted conflict between the state and national authorities, and the possibility that a president once elected might be elected for life. In another speech he endeavored to show that the rights of the western territory would be less secure under the new constitution than they were under the confederation. He finally assented to the ratification on condition that certain amendments should be adopted. As late as 1816 he recurred to the fears of a monarchy, which he had entertained in 1788, and endeavored to show that they were not unreasonable. 

Under the new constitution the first choice of Virginia for senators fell upon Richard Henry Lee and William Grayson. Tim latter died soon afterward, and Monroe was selected by the legislature to fill the vacant place. He took his seat in the senate, 6 December, 1790, and held the office until May, 1794, when he was sent as envoy to France. Among the Anti-Federalists he took a prominent stand, and was one of the most determined opponents of the administration of Washington. To Hamilton he was especially hostile. The appointment ofGouverneur Morris to be minister to France, and of John Jay to be minister to England, seemed to him most objectionable. Indeed, he met all the Federalist attempts to organize a strong and efficient government with incredulity or with adverse criticism. It was therefore a great surprise to him, as well as to the public, that, while still a senator, he was designated the successor of Morris as minister to France. 

For this difficult place he was not the first choice of the president, nor the second: but he was known to be favorably disposed toward the French government, and it was thought that he might lead to the establishment of friendly relations with that power, and, besides, there is no room to doubt that Washington desired, as , John Quincy Adams has said, to hold the balance between the parties at home by appointing Jay, the Federalist, to the English mission, and Monroe, the Republican, to the French mission. It was the intent of the United States to avoid a collision with any foreign power, but neutrality was in danger of being considered an offence by either France or England at any moment. 

Monroe arrived in Paris just after the fall of Ropespierre, and in the excitement of the day he did not at once receive recognition from the committee of public safety. He therefore sent a letter to the president of the convention, and arrangements were made for his official reception, 15 August, 1794. At that time he addressed the convention in terms of great cordiality, but his enthusiasm led him beyond his discretion, he transcended the authority that had been given to him, and when his report reached the government at home Randolph sent him a dispatch, " in the frankness of friendship," criticizing severely the course that the plenipotentiary had pursued. A little latex the secretary took a more conciliatory tone and Monroe bellowed he never would have spoken so severely if all the dispatches from Paris had reached the United States in due order. 

The residence of Monroe in France was a period of anxious responsibility, during which he did not succeed in recovering the confidence of the authorities at home. When Pickering succeeded Randolph in the department of state. Monroe was informed that he was superseded by the appointment of Charles C. Pinckney. The letter of recall was dated 22 August. 1796. On his return he published a pamphlet of 500 pages, entitled "A View of the conduct of the Executive" (Philadelphia, 1797) in which he printed his instructions, correspondence with the French and United States governments, speeches, and letters received from American residents in Paris. This publication made a great stir. Washington, who had then retired from public life. appears to have remained quiet under the provocation, but he wrote upon his copy of the "View" animadversions that have since been published. 

Party feeling, already excited, became fiercer when Monroe's book appeared, and personalities that have now lost their force were freely uttered on both sides. Under these circumstances Monroe became the hero of the Anti-Federalists, and was at once elected governor of Virginia. He held the office from 1799 till 1802. The most noteworthy occurrence during his administration was the suppression of a servile insurrection by which the city of Richmond was threatened. Monroe's star continued in the ascendant. After Thomas Jefferson's election to the presidency in 1801, an opportunity occurred for returning Mr. Monroe to the French mission, from which he had been recalled a few years previously. There were many reasons for believing that the United States could secure possession of the territory beyond the Mississippi belonging to France. The American minister in Paris, Robert R Livingston, had already opened the negotiations, and Monroe was sent as an additional plenipotentiary to second, with his enthusiasm and energy, the effort that had been begun. By their joint efforts it came to pass that in the spring of 1803 a treaty was signed by which France gave up to the United States for a pecuniary consideration the vast region then known as Louisiana. Livingston remarked to the plenipotentiaries after the treaty was signed; " We have lived long, but this is the noblest work of our lives." 

By: Stanley Yavneh Klos
  • First United American Republic: United Colonies of North America: 13 British Colonies United in Congress was founded by 12 colonies on September 5th, 1774 (Georgia joined in 1775)  and governed through a British Colonial Continental Congress.  Peyton Randolph and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief;
  • Second United American Republic: The United States of America: 13 Independent States United in Congress was founded by 12 states on July 2nd, 1776 (New York abstained until July 9th), and governed through the United States Continental CongressJohn Hancock and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief; 
  • Third United American Republic: The United States of America: A Perpetual Union was founded by 13 States on March 1st, 1781, with the enactment of the first U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, and governed through the United States in Congress Assembled.  Samuel Huntington and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief; 
  • Fourth United American Republic: The United States of America: We the People  was formed by 11 states on March 4th, 1789 (North Carolina and Rhode Island joined in November 1789 and May 1790, respectively), with the enactment of the U.S. Constitution of 1787. The fourth and current United States Republic governs through  the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate in Congress Assembled, the U.S. President and Commander-in-Chief, and the U.S. Supreme Court.  George Washington served as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief.






The story of the negotiations that terminated in this sale is full of romance. Bonaparte, Talleyrand, and Marbois were the representatives of France.  Jefferson. Livingston, and Monroe guided the interests of the United States. The French were in need of money and the Americans could afford to pay well for the control of the entrance to the Mississippi. England stood ready to seize the coveted prize. The moment was opportune; the negotiators on both sides were eager for the transfer. It did not take long to agree upon the consideration of 80,000,000 francs as the purchase-money, and the assent of Bonaparte was secured. "I have given to England," he said, exultingly, "a maritime rival that will sooner or later humble her pride." 

It is evident that the history of the United States has been largely influenced by this transaction, which virtually extended the national domain from the mouth of the Mississippi river to the mouth of the Columbia. Monroe went from Paris to London, where he was accredited to the court of St. James, and subsequently went to Spain in order to negotiate for the cession of Florida to the United States. But he was not successful in this and returned to London, where, with the aid of William Pinckney, who was sent to re-enforce his efforts, he concluded a treaty with Great Britain after long negotiations frequently interrupted. This treaty failed to meet the expectations of the United States in two important particulars--it made no provisions against the impressments of seamen, and it secured no indemnity for loss that Americans had incurred in the seizure of their goods and vessels. Jefferson was so dissatisfied that he would not send the treaty to the senate. 

Monroe returned home in 1807 and at once drew up an elaborate defense of his political conduct. Matters were evidently drifting toward war between Great Britain and the United States. Again the disappointed and discredited diplomatist received a token of popular approbation. He was for the third time elected to the assembly, and in 1811 was chosen for the second time governor of Virginia. He remained in this office but a short time, for he was soon called by Madison to the office of secretary of state. He held the portfolio during the next six years, from 1811 to 1817. In 1814-'15 he also acted as secretary of war. While he was a member of the cabinet of Madison, hostilities were begun between the United States and England. The public buildings in Washington were burned, and it was only by the most strenuous measures that the progress of the British was interrupted. 

Monroe gained much popularity by the measures that he took for the protection of the capital and for the enthusiasm with which he prosecuted the war measures of the government Monroe had now held almost every important station except that of president to which a politician could aspire. He had served in the legislature of Virginia, in the Continental congress, and in the senate of the United States. He had been a member of the convention that considered the ratification of the constitution, twice he had served as governor, twice he had been sent abroad as a minister, and he had been accredited to three great powers. He had held two places in the cabinet of Madison. With the traditions of those days, which regarded experience in political affairs a qualification for an exalted station, it was most natural that Monroe should become a candidate for the presidency. Eight years previously his fitness for the office had been often discussed. 

Now, in 1816, at the age of fifty-nine years, almost exactly the age at which Jefferson and Madison attained the same position, he was elected president of the United States, receiving 183 votes in the electoral college against 34 that were given for RufusKing, the candidate of the Federalists. He continued in this office until 1825. His second election in 1821 was made with almost complete unanimity, but one electoral vote being given against him. Daniel D. Tompkins was vice-president during both presidential terms. John Quincy Adams, John C. Calhoun, William H. Crawford, and William Wirt, were members of the cabinet during his entire administration. The principal subjects that engaged the attention of the president were the defenses of the Atlantic seaboard, the promotion of internal improvements, the conduct of the Seminole war, the acquisition of Florida, the Missouri compromise, and the resistance to foreign interference in American affairs, formulated in a declaration that is called the "Monroe doctrine." 

Two social events marked the beginning and the end of his administration: first, his ceremonious visit to the principal cities of the north and south; and second, the national reception of the Marquis de Lafayette who came to this country as the nation's guest The purchase of the Floridas was brought to a successful issue, 22 February, 1819 by a treaty with Spain, concluded at Washington, and thus the control of the entire Atlantic and Gulf seaboard, from the St. Croix to the Sabine, was secured to the United States. Monroe's influence in the controversies that preceded the Missouri compromise does not appear to have been very strong. He showed none of the boldness which Jefferson would have exhibited under similar circumstances. He took more interest in guiding the national policy with respect to internal improvements and the defense of the seaboard. He vetoed the Cumberland road bill, 4 May, 1822, on the ground that congress had no right to execute a system of internal improvement ; but he held that if such powers could be secured by constitutional amendment good results would follow. Even then he held that the general government should undertake only works of national significance, and should leave all minor improvements to the separate states. 

There is no measure with which the name of Monroe is connected so important as his enunciation of "the Monroe doctrine." The words of this famous utterance constitute two paragraphs in the president's message of 2 December, 1823. In the first of these paragraphs he declares that the governments of Russia and Great Britain have been informed that the American continents henceforth are not to be considered subjects for future colonization by any European powers. In the second paragraph he says that the United States would consider any attempt on the part of the European powers to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. He goes further, and says that if the governments established in North and South America who have declared their independence of European control should be interfered with by any European power, this interference would be regarded as the manifestation of unfriendly disposition to the United States. These utterances were addressed especially to Spain and Portugal. They undoubtedly expressed the dominant sentiments of the people of the United States at the time they were uttered, and, moreover, they embodied a doctrine which had been vaguely held in the days of Washington, and from that time to the administration of Monroe had been more and more clearly avowed. 
It has received the approval of successive administrations and of the foremost publicists and statesmen. The peace and prosperity of America have been greatly promoted by the declaration, almost universally assented to, that European states are not to gain new dominion in America. For convenience of reference the two passages of the rues-sage are here quoted: "At the proposal of the Russian imperial government, made through the minister of the emperor residing here, full power and instructions have been transmitted to the minister of the United States at St. Petersburg, to arrange, by amicable negotiation, the respective rights and interests of the two nations on the northwest coast of this continent. A similar proposal had been made by his imperial majesty to the government of Great Britain, which has likewise been acceded to. The government of the United States has been desirous, by this friendly proceeding, of manifesting the great value which they have invariably attached to the friendship of the emperor, and their solicitude to cultivate the best understanding with his government. In the discussions to which this interest has given rise, and in the arrangements by which they may terminate, the occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European power .... We owe it, therefore, to candor, and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers, to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered, and shall not interfere. But with
h the governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power, in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States."

At the close of Monroe's second term as president he retired to private life, and during the seven years that remained to him resided part of the time at Oak Hill, Loudon County, Virginia, and part of the time in the city of New York. The illustration above represents both the old and the new Oak Hill mansions. He accepted the office of regent in the University of Virginia in 1826 with Jefferson and Madison. He was asked to serve on the electoral ticket of Virginia in 1828, but declined on the ground that an ex-president should not be a party-leader. He consented to act as a local magistrate, however, and to become a member of the Virginia constitutional convention. The administration of Monroe has often been designated as the "era of good feeling." 

Schouler, the historian, has found this heading on an article that appeared in the Boston Centinel of 12 July, 1817. it is, on the whole, a suitable phrase to indicate the state of political affairs that succeeded to the troublesome period of organization and preceded the fearful strains of threatened disruption and of civil war. One idea is consistently represented by Monroe from the beginning to the end of his public life--the idea that America is for Americans, that the territory of the United States is to be protected and enlarged, and that foreign intervention will never be permitted. In his early youth Monroe enlisted for the defense of American independence. He was one of the first to perceive the importance of free navigation upon the Mississippi: he negotiated with France and Spain for the acquisition of Louisiana and Florida; he gave a vigorous impulse to the second war with Great Britain in de-fence of our maritime rights when the rights of a neutral power were endangered; and he enunciated a dictum against foreign interference which has now the force of international law. Judged by the high stations he was called upon to fill, his career was brilliant; but the writings he has left in state papers and correspondence are inferior to those of Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, and others of his contemporaries. He is rather to be honored as an upright and patriotic citizen who served his party with fidelity and never condescended to low and unworthy measures. He deserved well of the country, which he served faithfully during his career. After his retirement from the office of president he urged upon the government the judgment of unsettled claims which he presented for outlays made during his prolonged political services abroad and for which he had never received adequate remuneration.

During the advance of old age his time was largely occupied in correspondence, and he undertook to write a philosophical history of the origin of free governments, which was published long after his decease. While attending congress, Monroe married, in 1786, a daughter of Lawrence Kortright, of New York. One of his two daughters, Eliza., married George Hay, of Virginia, and the other, Maria, married Samuel L. Gouverneur of New York. A large number of manuscripts, including drafts of state papers, letters addressed to Monroe, and letters from him, have been preserved. Most of these have been purchased by congress and are preserved in the archives of the state department ; others are still held by his descendants. Schouler, in his "History of the United States," has made use of this material to advantage, particularly in his account of the administrations of Madison and Monroe, which he has treated in detail. Bancroft, in his "History of the Constitution," draws largely upon the Monroe papers, many of which he prints for the first time. The eulogy of John Quincy Adams his (Boston diary 1831) afford and the best contemporary view of Monroe's characteristics as a statesman.

Jefferson, Madison, Webster, Calhoun, and Benton have left their appreciative estimates of his character The remains of James Monroe were buried in Marble cemetery, Second street, between First and Second avenues, New York, but in 1858 were taken to Richmond, Virginia, and there re-interred on the 28th of April, in Hollywood. (See illustration above.) See Samuel P. Waldo's "Tour of James Monroe through the Northern and Eastern States, with a Sketch of his Life" (Hartford, 1819); " Life of James Monroe, with a Notice of his Administration," by John Quincy Adams (Buffalo, 1850) : "Concise History of the .Monroe Doctrine," by George F. Tucker (Boston, 1885): and Daniel C. Gilman's life of Monroe, in the "American Statesmen " series (Boston, 1883). In the volume last named is an appendix by J. F. Jameson, which gives a list of writings pertaining to Monroe's career and to the Monroe doctrine. Monroe's portrait by Stuart is in the possession of Thomas J. Coolidge, and that by Vanderlyn is in the city-hall, New York, both of which have been engraved.--

His wife, Elizabeth Kortright, born in New York city in 1768; died in Loudon county, Virginia, in 1830, was the daughter of Lawrence Kortright, a captain in the British army. She married James Monroe in 1786, accompanied him in his missions abroad in 1794 and 1803, and while he was United States minister to France she effected the release of Madame de Lafayette, who was confined in the prison of LaForce, hourly expecting to be executed. On the accession of her husband to the presidency, Mrs. Monroe became the mistress of the White House; but she mingled little in society on account of her delicate health. She is described by a contemporary writer as "an elegant and accomplished woman, with a dignity of manner that peculiarly fitted her for the station." The above vignette is copied from the only portrait that was ever made of Mrs. Monroe, which was executed in Paris in 1796

His nephew, James Monroe, soldier, in Albemarle county, Virginia, 10 September, 1799; died in Orange, New Jersey, 7 September, 1870, was a son of the president's elder brother, Andrew. He was graduated at the United States military academy in 1815, assigned to the artillery corps, and served in the war with Algiers, in which he was wounded while directing part of the quarter-deck guns of the "Guerridre" in an action with the"Mashouda" off Cape de Gata, Spain. He was aide to General Winfield Scott in 1817-'22, became 1st lieutenant of the 4th artillery on the reorganization of the army in 1821, and served on garrison and commissary duty till 1832, when he was again appointed Gem Scott's aide on the Black Hawk expedition, but did not reach the seat of war, owing to illness. He resigned his commission on 30 September, 1832, and entered politics, becoming an alderman of New York city in 1833, and president of the board in 1834. In 1836 he declined the appointment of aide to Governor William L. Marcy. He was in congress in 1839-'41, and was chosen again in 1846, but his seat was contested, and congress ordered a new election, at which he refused to be a candidate. During the Mexican war he was active in urging the retention in command of General Scott. In 1850-'2 he was in the New York legislature, and in 1852 was an earnest supporter of his old chief for the presidency. After the death of his wife in that year he retired from politics, and spent much of his time at the Union club, of which he was one of the earliest members. Just before the civil war he visited Richmond, and, by public speeches and private effort, tried to prevent the secession of Virginia, and in the struggle that followed he remained a firm supporter of the National government. He much resembled his uncle in personal appearance.





The First United American Republic
Continental Congress of the United Colonies Presidents 
Sept. 5, 1774 to July 1, 1776


September 5, 1774
October 22, 1774
October 22, 1774
October 26, 1774
May 20, 1775
May 24, 1775
May 25, 1775
July 1, 1776


The Second United American Republic
Continental Congress of the United States Presidents 
July 2, 1776 to February 28, 1781

July 2, 1776
October 29, 1777
November 1, 1777
December 9, 1778
December 10, 1778
September 28, 1779
September 29, 1779
February 28, 1781


Commander-in-Chief United Colonies & States of America

George Washington: June 15, 1775 - December 23, 1783


The Third United American Republic
Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled
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March 1, 1781
July 6, 1781
July 10, 1781
Declined Office
July 10, 1781
November 4, 1781
November 5, 1781
November 3, 1782
November 4, 1782
November 2, 1783
November 3, 1783
June 3, 1784
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November 22, 1785
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June 5, 1786
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February 1, 1787
February 2, 1787
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January 21, 1789






The Fourth United American Republic
Presidents of the United States of America





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May 10, 1775 to Dec. 12, 1776
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September 27, 1777
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Philadelphia
July 2, 1778 to June 21, 1783
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